A three-time All-Star, two-time gold medal winner, and the league's premiere offensive big man. There's no team in this league that wouldn't welcome the multi-faceted Kevin Love with cliched love. The 25-year-old California native will draw the never-ending ire of offseason rumors considering his predictable falling out party with the Minnesota Timberwolves' brass. I say predictable not because of Love's personality and work ethic, but because this is the Wolves after all and it's become uncomfortably familiar.
It's not unfair to assume that half the league, in one form or another, has been linked rather loosely with Love's next destination. This includes Philadelphia, not because of its destination or quality of team, but due to Sam Hinkie's devil magic. One year in and fans have already assumed Hinkie with some level of majestic intelligence in between Brainiac and Tony Stark. Brainiac would be a decent villain in the DC movie universe but I don't think they'll go that route.
Again, the assumption is loose. There hasn't been word of Hinkie's pondering on Love from any source. And despite the trust of the General Manager, Hinkie only has one year under his belt with the organization. To assume we know what he's thinking is erroneous to an extent. All there is to go off is the move's in last year's draft, the coaching staff hiring, and mid-season trades. Hinkie's preference for young, long, hyper-athletic prospects is clear, which doesn't exactly scream "Kevin Love". But Love's on-court abilities negate that in a multitude of ways. So what would be the ultimate factor in the decision to go or not go after Love?
Sure, Love's probable preference for the West Coast, where he grew up and went to school, excludes Philadelphia. And its pretty skeptical that Love would ever want to join a team that has a multi-year rebuilding process in the works. He played in Minnesota for five years, so maybe he isn't the biggest fan. But Hinkie is Hinkie. And the Wolves are the Wolves. It's not impossible. But there's a specific, evident reason why it probably won't.
Another demon wizard of magnificent intelligence, Nate Silver, recently discussed the value of re-signing players after their rookie contracts. What he found was an evident trajectory. Players, regardless of where they're drafted (this looks at all players drafted in the first round since the lottery began), tend to decline rather automatically in year seven of their careers. Love, drafted in 2008, will be moving to year six. Obviously a talent like Love doesn't exactly sit on an average note of the bell curve. Since 1998, only two players drafted 5th overall - Dwyane Wade and Love - have made multiple All-Star appearances. The movement of the trajectory in the example above is due largely to the mass of players that weren't worth their 5th overall selection. So it's very, very safe to assume that Love is the exception and not the rule, even without noting that his WS% in 2013-14 was the highest of his career.
So with Love, a known and improving quantity, there's a degree of certainty. The issue with why he may not be the best idea isn't because of the graph above related to him, it's with the Sixers' other assets. Acquiring Love would amount to a lot of sacrifice - perhaps both Top 10 draft picks. Releasing those values for a known one in Love is only risky because the team's other products (in this case MCW and Nerlens Noel, assuming they wouldn't be part of that trade) avoid the same trajectory that Love did. The evidence indicated above says that it's improbable. And even if luck falls through and MCW and Noel do become multi-All-Star talents, there's no indication of when that would occur. According to the data, player's peak generally at year six - when Love would be 30 years-old and in a much more probable decline.
Aside from the unrealistic chance that Love wants to play in Philadelphia (sorry), the probability of all pivotal pieces on the roster hitting their primes at the right time is much lower than worth said risk. But Love, I will stress, isn't the risk; it's everything else working out.